Life Food

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Sick Kids patient a passionate cook, author

By Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

Angel Blainey's cookbook, Angel’s Touch: Sweet and Savoury Delights.

Angel Blainey's cookbook, Angel’s Touch: Sweet and Savoury Delights.

Today’s a special day for Sick Kids patient ambassador Angel Blainey — she and her family launch her first cookbook, Angel’s Touch: Sweet and Savoury Delights, a jam-packed cookbook featuring more than 100 recipes plus Blainey’s stories about the Hospital for Sick Children.

The cookbook is Angel’s way to give thanks for the care and support she is receiving at Sick Kids. Angel has been in and out of hospital throughout her whole life. Born with Down syndrome, Angel, now 20, underwent open-heart surgery as a baby. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Although she was turning 18, Angel was admitted for her treatment to Sick Kids, where her oncologist, Dr. Johann Hitzler, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of children with leukemia and lymphoma, particularly the leukemic disorders occurring in children with Down syndrome.

“With this cookbook, I want to thank my care team at Sick Kids, and raise money so that they can help other kids who have cancer or Down syndrome just like me,” says Angel. “I want to beat this cancer so that I can go to a culinary arts college and learn how to turn my dream restaurant into reality.”

Cooking is one of Angel’s passions, and it was Riann Horan, a child life specialist at Sick Kids, who suggested Angel could cook up a storm in Marnie’s Lounge, a central activity room that provides a wide range of activities and therapeutic programming opportunities for inpatients, outpatients, and their family members. When she was feeling well enough during one of her longer stays, Angel would make and share her delicious meals and treats with her family, doctors and nurses. She drew inspiration for recipe and menu ideas from her family members and her favourite cooking shows.

All proceeds from cookbook sales will go towards SickKids Foundation to support Dr. Hitzler’s research in leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer, and the Down Syndrome Clinic Initiative.

RAVENSWOOD BESIEGED: One fall night, under a dark and threatening sky, ravens circled above winemaker Joel Peterson as he hauled grapes for his debut wine.

Amidst the shadowy blackness and mysterious cackles of the ravens, the bold, robust Ravenswood Besieged wine was born. As the story goes, Joel’s inaugural wine was an immediate success, and the birds henceforth lent their name and image to the Ravenswood brand, this year celebrating its 40th anniversary.

It’s the perfect wine for Halloween — Ravenswood Besieged is plummy, crimson-coloured and ideal for a night of haunting storytelling or a good Halloween bash.

At the LCBO for $24.95.

STAY HEALTHY: The weather may be warm, but we’re mighty sure everyone is gearing up for cold and flu season. If you’re looking for natural ways to boost your immunity and have all your questions answered to improve your overall well-being, check out the famous Whole Life Expo, celebrating its 30th anniversary and taking place this Friday to Sunday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where more than 200 exhibitors and 70 expert speakers will be on hand to provide everyday healthy solutions to make clean living simple and disease prevention easier.

“To celebrate our 30th year, we’re showcasing the best in self-healthcare, using everything from traditional superfoods to modern herbal formulas to immune boosting foods made with spicy cures from the cupboard,” says Julia Woodford, founder of the Whole Life Expo. “Many people believe that getting sick during fall and winter is inevitable, but we are here to prove that simply isn’t true. There are many ways to prevent disease and get maximum enjoyment from fall and winter that are easily incorporated into your everyday routine.”

Exhibitors will be showcasing their products, supplements, food and services to help you get through the season naturally.

  • WHOLE LIFE EXPO, Oct. 21-23, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building, 255 Front St. For tickets and info, see

SUNNY DAYS WITH LYNN CRAWFORD: Canada’s award-winning vacation company Sunwing recently announced the launch of the new Sunwing Cafe on-board menu developed in partnership with Food Network celebrity chef Lynn Crawford in response to feedback from customers looking for a wider variety of fresh and affordably priced meal options to suit their individual tastes.

Available now, the new buy-on-board menu will include a range of high-quality light meals and snacks and feature dishes conceived by Crawford.

Dishes include honey Dijon peameal bacon on a kaiser roll topped with onion marmalade and grainy mustard aioli, or baked pasta with roasted tomatoes, boneless beef short ribs in a rich Bourguignon sauce served with herb-roasted potatoes, heirloom carrots and double smoked bacon.

“Sunwing has always been part of my family,” said Crawford. “It’s their desire to give their passengers the very best experience. I really want to showcase fresh, local, high-quality ingredients served in the very best five-star experience,” said Crawford, adding it will be “chef-inspired comfort food that you want to enjoy.”

APOTHIC DARK: Ah, the spook season — most wonderful time of the year for those who love to be scared on dark and stormy nights. With Halloween party season coming up, why not serve an Apothic Dark cocktail — with the wine’s blend of Merlot and Syrah and its hints of dark chocolate and coffee, it’s the perfect ingredient for the Dark Blackberry Cobbler cocktail. Here’s all you need:

  • 2 oz. Apothic Dark
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. pomegranate juice
  • Club soda

Combine first four ingredients in a glass filled with ice, top with club soda and garnish with blackberries. Serves 1.


A collision of two classic meals results in epic flavour combo. Visit Riceinfo. com

  • 1 cup (250 mL) long grain white rice
  • 1 lb. (500 g) lean ground beef
  • 1¼ cups (310 mL) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 mL) prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • ½ tsp. (2 mL) each salt and pepper
  • Sliced dill pickles and/or tomatoes (optional)


Prepare rice according to package directions. Spread out on a plate until cool enough to handle. Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) deep-dish pie plate.

Meanwhile, crumble beef into a large skillet set over medium heat. Cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until browned and no pink remains. Transfer beef mixture to a paper-towel lined colander to drain; cool slightly.

Beat one egg and mix with cooled rice, ½ cup (125 mL) cheese, salt and pepper until well combined. Press into bottom and up sides of prepared pie plate.

Transfer beef mixture to a bowl and stir in onion, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and remaining egg. Spread evenly in rice crust. (Pie can be assembled to this point and reserved for 1 day in the refrigerator.)

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Bake pie for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and pie is hot in centre. Garnish with pickles and tomato slices (if using).

Makes 6 servings.